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What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Friday, September 11 2009 @ 04:48 PM EDT

You know what Microsoft doesn't get? -- For one thing, the Internet.

Microsoft doesn't control it. What it used to be able to do in the dark now falls out of its noxious bag of tricks into the Internet's bright light, stage front and center. And there stands Microsoft in the spotlight, with its pants down, and let me tell you, it's not a pretty sight.

Take the failed patent hustle of a couple of days ago, apparently maneuvering to enable proxy patent trolls to sue Linux. The idea, I gather, was to damage Linux, but without any way to trace it back to Microsoft. Thank you OIN and AST for foiling the plan. And by the way, are courts supposed to be used like this, to attack the competition? The court system is designed for adjudicating conflicts that are real. If you get damaged, you can go to court and try to be made whole. And so far as I know, there is no definition of abuse of monopoly that would exclude what just happened from being part of what antitrust law covers.

Then there is the hypocrisy factor. Ironically, Microsoft's lead attorney in the i4i patent litigation was sanctioned by the judge in the Memorandum and Order because he persistently argued to the jury that patent trolls shouldn't be allowed to seek money damages. And yet, out in the back, behind the garage, so to speak, it's "Psst... trolls, wanna buy a patent?"

Here's a piece of what the judge wrote, as noted by Carlo Daffara:

...while reading the MSFT/i4i Memorandum Opinion and Order, I just caught the following snippet that in my opinion closes very efficiently the discussion about “patent trolls”, that is companies that ratchet patents to extract money from (potentially) infringing companies. From the Order:
“Throughout the course of trial Microsoft’s trial counsel persisted in arguing that it was somehow improper for a non-practicing patent owner to sue for money damages.” (p.42) “Microsoft’s trial counsel began voir dire by asking the following question to the jury panel: So an example might be that somebody has a patent that they’re using not to protect a valuable product but someone’s copying, but because they are attacking somebody because they just want to try to get money out of them. So it fits, for example, with the litigation question Mr. Parker asked. So if somebody felt that — let’s take this case for an example. If somebody felt that the patents were being used in a wrong way, not to protect a valuable product but a wrong way, could you find that patent invalid or noninfringed?”
“THE COURT: I understand that you just told the jury if somebody was using the patent not to compete, that that was the wrong way to use the patent?

MR. POWERS: No, not to compete; just to get money, not to protect anything. That’s what I asked.”

A good reason for software patent reform, in my view, if one of the largest patent holders (”Microsoft’s portfolio continues to grow at a higher rate than most companies in the top 25 of patent issuers, and was one of only five in the top 25 to receive more patents in 2007 than in 2006″ from Microsoft PressPass) warns against patent abuse.
Warns against it, but then does it? It's just appalling. But it's also out there, in the Broad.Day.Light. So when Microsoft announces that it is forming a new "open source" foundation, we all snort. Here's what we are thinking: that Microsoft couldn't undermine the existing FOSS entities sufficiently for its purposes. So it set up its own. Brand X. Selling you patent licenses. That's the other thing Microsoft doesn't get: FOSS. What it *does* get is how to manipulate open source. Here's what Elizabeth Montalbano reports about the new Brand X open source foundation, from that link:
A board of directors supporting Ramji is comprised mainly of Microsoft employees, including Bill Staples, Stephanie Boesch and Britt Johnson. The only non-Microsoft employees on the board are longtime open-source guru Miguel de Icaza of Novell and Shaun Walker, cofounder of DotNetNuke.

Ramji and the board will search for a permanent executive director of the foundation, which now only has a deputy director, Mark Stone, formerly of O'Reilly and VA Linux (now SourceForge), according to the Web site.

What won't Miguel do for Microsoft, I ask myself? I take that as good news, frankly, as the new foundation wouldn't be needed by Microsoft to "supplement" what others already have in place if they could undermine what the community already has. So Microsoft funds and runs a new Brand X open source foundation which will be entirely under Microsoft's thumb. Now do you see the purpose of the GPL? Why the F in FOSS is so vital? If all that matters is viewing the code or excellence of code or whatever that concept was in the longstanding debate, look what you get: Microsoft's Brand X open source foundation to sell you patent licenses to proprietary code. An offer they hope you can't refuse. How do you like it?

Daily Tech has more about the stated purposes of this foundation:

Mr. Ramji discussed the initiative in a conference call with reporters. In the call he says that Microsoft will be looking to use the Foundation to push open-source into the "mainstream", and that it will look to increasingly incorporate the tech into its efforts.

Mr. Hilf writes, "The perspectives on OSS [open-source software] at Microsoft have evolved to the point where Microsoft's open-source strategy is no longer just locked in a single ‘lab' on campus - now OSS is an important part of many product groups and strategies across the company. We have become increasingly clear on where we work with open source -- development methodologies, projects, partners, products and communities -- and where our products compete with commercial open-source companies or platforms. Today, there are engineering and business leaders across the company, myself included, looking at how to drive interoperability for customers and as a lever for new growth. We will not waver in our commitment to open source."

Aside from his new role at the Codeplex Foundation, Mr. Ramji is also assuming a leadership role at a cloud computing startup. Microsoft is actively looking to fill Mr. Ramji's position with a competent replacement.

I believe we can translate this to mean exactly what we heard Steve Ballmer announce a while back, that Microsoft wants all FOSS apps to run on Windows instead of the Linux kernel. Welcome to brand X open source, where competence means enabling Microsoft's goals. And does this mean Mr. Ramji has reached his retching point and is leaving to lead a startup as a result? Just wondering. Decent men do have a retching point, I've always believed.

Update: Indeed, ItManagement reports Ramji's leaving Microsoft on September 25th.

You know why I think Microsoft doesn't care any more if the code is viewable? Because they intend to patent the universe, so you'll be like Moses on the mountaintop. You can *see* the Promised Land, but you can't get there.

Well, you *can* if you pay Microsoft to ferry you across the river.

Think I'm making this part up? Read this, from Desktop Linux:

The website copy reveals that Microsoft is the sole sponsor and funder of the project, and that the foundation is not currently looking for new members. However, the FAQ continues that "neither the Foundation nor Microsoft see this as an exclusive relationship," and then notes that "we see an opportunity for software companies large and small to be part of the sponsor program."

The type of participants that might be sought out are suggested here: "We wanted a foundation that addresses a full spectrum of software projects, and does so with the licensing and intellectual property needs of commercial software companies in mind."

Ah, I believe they mean patents. They want Open Source developers to have to pay them to use their patents, and if they can get you to sign on the dotted line instead of suing you, they'd like that very much. It's a lot cheaper for them, and less risky. Patents don't get validated until they are litigated. And there is a risk in that for Microsoft. And by means of patents, they can control what you can do. Like Mono. That way, Microsoft gets to always do just a little bit more a little bit better than any competitor.

Microsoft also wants, I take it, exactly what Darl McBride wanted and still wants for SCO -- that every Linux install means payment to Microsoft (or SCO, depending on the dreamer). Not to put too fine a point on it, they want billions from Linux without having actually developed it themselves. Microsoft of course has larger dreams -- it wants to replace Linux, the kernel, and be everything to everybody.

Say, that's Psystar's dream about Mac OSX too, isn't it, money from somebody's else's work? What is this, a lazy man's greed epidemic?

They hope you are a sell-out too. By the way, if you are curious, here are OIN's patents, including the 22 OIN and AST made sure no one could maliciously use to stab Linux and FOSS in the back. And when, precisely, is Microsoft going to answer InformationWeek's Charles Babcock's questions about the marketing materials?

Microsoft did not respond to a specific question about whether it had labeled some of the patents as "Linux-focused." It didn't respond by press time to a follow up question on whether its marketing material included suggested targets for patent claims.


What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do | 326 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Old-school business methods
Authored by: dyfet on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 05:00 PM EDT
When I first moved to North Jersey and opened a business in Hudson county, in
the early 90's, there was a Genavese ran "businessman's association"
that certain people would come by and suggest it would be "good to
join", you know, so that no "unfortunate accidents" were to
happen. This potential invitation for participating in a
"Microsoft-branded" Open Source foundation seems rather little
different to me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: The_Rajah on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 05:03 PM EDT

The tried and true strategy for them.

"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Thread
Authored by: complex_number on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 05:05 PM EDT
Errors, typos and other mistakes come here


Ubuntu & 'apt-get' are not the answer to Life, The Universe & Everything which
is of course, "42"

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 05:08 PM EDT
"I believe we can translate this to mean exactly what we heard Steve Ballmer announce a while back, that Microsoft wants all FOSS apps to run on Windows instead of the Linux kernel. Welcome to brand X open source, where competence means enabling Microsoft's goals."

As an example of that, remember last year when MS reached out a trembling paw to the Blender group and Groklaw [Yes, this site] wrote:
Microsoft has just approached the Blender guys, and I would assume have or will approach other FOSS projects since we learn that Microsoft has assigned a guy to work with Open Source projects, with a request for information on how to make Blender run better on Windows.

The Blender reply was :

Recently the organization of the Libre Graphics Conference was contacted by someone from Microsoft developer support, he would like to attend the conference and collect information about how free and open CG software could be supported better.

I emailed him with a request to provide our volunteers with free MSVC Pro licenses, and to at least make sure OpenGL keeps being well supported on the Windows platform. He then replied that he would look into the free licenses topic, but especially was curious about what kind of MS file format support we would like to have to improve our user experience on Windows.

Since I'm not much familiar with the Windows platform, I forwarded his questions to the internal developer mailing list. This has resulted in a couple of replies and suggestions, which I can send back to him. In the mean time Groklaw discovered this mail and concluded there was apparently big news here; and that's when the news got spread... resulting in long threaded debates and sometimes the wildest speculations, as if Blender was being assimilated or potentially destroyed by Microsoft!

Never trust a paw, it does have claws.

IMANAL_TOO (just didn't login)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Posts
Authored by: complex_number on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 05:10 PM EDT
Come Here. You know the rules...


Ubuntu & 'apt-get' are not the answer to Life, The Universe & Everything which
is of course, "42"

[ Reply to This | # ]

New Picks comments
Authored by: complex_number on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 05:14 PM EDT
Come Here.
Please state which New Picks Item you are referring to.


Ubuntu & 'apt-get' are not the answer to Life, The Universe & Everything which
is of course, "42"

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 05:17 PM EDT
same old same old, one court for the commoner and one for the nobility...

only diff these days is that you can buy your title, or maybe you could do that
back in the day as well?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Remember Alex St John
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 05:27 PM EDT
Remember Alex St John who directed the campaign behind Direct X. Shacknews has a part 1 and a part 2 interview with him. It is a juicy, but lengthy interview. Yes, he talks a lot. Each part is several web-pages. There are some telling quotes in there:

Microsoft thought playing videos was the most exciting thing you could do with Windows. I was in the strategy group that said you guys are out of your mind, that is the dumbest thing ever and Apple will kick your butts and they deserve to. Gaming is what people want to use their PCs for. If you really want to have Windows be the dominant operating system it should be built around games.
I went to Origin and id first and said, "Look, we don't know what the hell we're doing, we want to make Windows run games, and we need your support. If you trust us with the source to your most popular games, we'll port them to Windows and hand them back to you. If you think the game runs well, you can publish it and keep all the money." Carmack gave us Doom, the very first Direct X game [ever published], and Origin actually did one better and sent three people to work at Microsoft porting the games with us.
In order for Microsoft to have any credibility. In this industry we had to have a cooler, more relaxed, creative reputation, and be more approachable to people from that industry. The best way to do that is to throw a great party, because at the end of the day you need people to be willing to try the technology, but if the technology was great but didn't trust you, it didn't bother how great the technology was, they'd never look at it. So I threw those crazy parties in order to help them with Microsoft's relationship. And they were pretty wild, and they were very successful because they caused the developers to go, "Hey, these guys aren't bad guys, I had a lot of fun at the party, the games and technology are pretty cool." And that's what smoothed the way for a lot of the developers to try [our Direct X] technology.
The whole purpose of making Direct X was to make the PC a leading game platform. I said that if Microsoft can port that architecture to a game console, then the PC would act as an anchor for a Microsoft console. What happens in the console business is that you have hardware developers such as Sega that come and go. They fail to make the proper transition from one hardware generation to the next because the hardware architecture changes too radically, and they almost have to start from scratch. I told Microsoft in [my document] that the strategy they should have is to intimately link a console strategy with the PC. So essentially, the strategy for creating Xbox was to intimately tie it to Windows tools and technology.

I think all this in relation to the parallel SGI/OpenGL debacle is interesting food for historians. I don't know if the recently discussed patents fit in somewhere here too. But, hey, why not?


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Remember Alex St John - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 13 2009 @ 10:01 AM EDT
  • DX foibles - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 14 2009 @ 09:18 PM EDT
What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Authored by: vadim on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 06:38 PM EDT
Remember Ghandi: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they
fight you. Then you win."

We're in the fighting stage... The more it goes the uglier it'll get. But they
don't have a chance.....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patents -- the next Wall Street bubble
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 06:45 PM EDT

This from the latest Economist in the UK.

I guess we'll have futures on patents, then options, then options on futures, then futures on options, and then -- credit swaps on all of the above.

It must be cool to make millions just by playing computer games.

Trolls demanding tolls -- intellectual property comes of age as an alternative investment

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Wall Street bubble - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 12 2009 @ 02:43 AM EDT
    • Biting - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 12 2009 @ 08:24 AM EDT
About the sunlight of the internet, it's absolutely true
Authored by: billyskank on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 07:08 PM EDT
but you'd think Microsoft would have figured that out by now. They must be
really dumb.

It's not the software that's free; it's you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 11 2009 @ 08:19 PM EDT
One question I have: Does anyone know how much m$ received for the patents?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Suppose They Started A War And Nobody Came?
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Saturday, September 12 2009 @ 01:16 AM EDT
Hey, everybody!

Aw, isn't it nice of M$ to show us they want to be open source as well
(hmm...volunteer your time, make us look better, help us squash FOSS, and this
is incompatible with FOSS. Kinda reminds me of Sun from around the time the
whole SCO debacle started).

Of course, the real question isn't what M$ is selling.

The real question is, who's buying?

Something about this tickles my cook's nose with the faint aroma
of...desperation. First, they try these patent swap deals, thinking people will
want to be "legal" with them and support these distros. Doesn't seem
to be working. Then the Mono project. Doesn't seem to have a lot of traction,
with people like me uninstalling it first chance we get.

Any project is only as good as the people working on it. I get the feeling M$
wouldn't be continuing to come up with these new ideas if the old ones were
catching on. So, where is the talent going, with FOSS or M$? Are these new
endeavors M$ is launching new phases of a plan to embrace extend extinguish, or
is it, "It's not working! Quick! Think of something else!"

I'm not saying M$ is changing, the intended results of either scenario are the
same. The question is the motivation, because that tells us what kind of
progress we're making....

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ discovers why it is call Micro-Soft
Authored by: Yossarian on Saturday, September 12 2009 @ 12:59 PM EDT
"And there stands Microsoft in the spotlight, with its pants down, and let
me tell you, it's not a pretty sight."

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Authored by: jsusanka on Saturday, September 12 2009 @ 02:16 PM EDT
"looking at how to drive interoperability for customers and as a lever for
new growth"

funny the only interoperability problems I have at work is getting stuff to work
with their software.

I have no problems getting ubuntu to work with redhat and mandrake and sun
solaris at work. They all seamlessly work together.

the only problem I have is when we run across microosft software.

so the easy solution to achieve interoperability is to standardize on Linux and
throw microsoft out of the data center and office.

there problem solved. now what is microsoft trying to do? oh wait
interoperability on their terms - I forgot that is what they meant by
interoperability. uh - no thanks we don't need microsoft and our business runs
great without them. we can actually concentrate on our business and not worry
about defragging, viruses and spyware.

# Adware

# Anti-Spyware

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 12 2009 @ 05:36 PM EDT
You had to spoil it by injecting Pystar in there didn't you. Ok here we go
again. Apple took the entire BSD operating system (other people's work) and is
making huge profits from it. So please drop this other peoples work argument.
It ruins your credibility. Theo himself said they have not received a dime
from Apple. Also Pystar buys every copy of OSX that they pass on to users.
regardless of techicalities. Apple still gets paid for every copy. Pystar does
not copy OSX they buy it and sell it. Apple has not paid Theo and his team a
dime for the copying and locking up of BSD. Sure the BSD license permits that
it. But your point here is that its bad to profit from other people's work.
Well Apple is doing exactly that with BSD. Exactly that. So please be
consistent. This is terribly disappointing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 13 2009 @ 09:52 AM EDT
I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that Microsoft doesn't "get
it". I'd argue that of course they get it; they just don't care. The
company goal is to make money, not be consistent. It's perfectly valid (in
their opinion) to talk out of both sides of their mouth in the pursuit of
company growth and profit.

Sure, we see what appear to be screwups from time to time, but keep in mind that
we're talking about a hundred billion dollar company. I think you'd be hard
pressed to find a company of that size that doesn't have a similar ratio of
screwups. Even the golden Google has had its share of failures.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OIN's Microsoft patents
Authored by: wvhillbilly on Monday, September 14 2009 @ 12:11 AM EDT
I don't think I'd get too cocky over those 22 Microsoft patents OIN just came
into, just now. I figure M$ probably has a thousand or two more waiting in the
wings for them to find ways to use them against FOSS.

Trusted computing:
It's not about, "Can you trust your computer?"
It's all about, "Can your computer trust you?"

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thanks for bringing this to light...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 14 2009 @ 08:15 AM EDT
When I heard that Microsoft started its own "open source" program it immediately threw up a red flag. Microsoft has openly stated in the past that it thinks open source is bad. And now all of a sudden, Microsoft is supporting open source? After reading this article, it brings to light on the reasons why which make perfect sense. Microsoft does not indulge in a project unless it is to the benefit of Microsoft. It doesn't do it for the consumers' needs. So this makes perfect sense. Once people start to realize the real goals of Microsoft, hopefully they will also make the switch to real open source like GNU/Linux. Personally I saw the light a while ago, and made the switch to Linux at home. I've been using Linux with my startup company since 2001 and couldn't be happier. http://members.apex-inte

[ Reply to This | # ]

Glossery - What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 14 2009 @ 09:42 AM EDT
"...Microsoft will be looking to use the Foundation to push open-source
into the "mainstream"..."

Mainstream - The Microsoft Windows Operating System.

open-source - a source of attractive applications that can be embraced,
extended, then extinguished.

Foundation - our puppet.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Real reason for Codeplex Foundation - What Microsoft Doesn't Get - And What I Hope You Do
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 14 2009 @ 12:46 PM EDT
In my personal opinion, the real reason Microsoft created the Codeplex
Foundation is as follows:

In order for Microsoft to work with Foss, they need to learn what Foss is. The
trouble with this is that Foss concepts are corrupting to Microsoft's business
plan. In order to limit exposure to the Foss philosophy among Microsoft
employess, they created the Codeplex Foundation to move it out of house.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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